Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 09:17 UK

Talking Shop: Freemasons

Music producers the Freemasons have become a well-known name in the world of remixing.

Brighton-based pair Russell Small and James Wiltshire have worked their magic on hits by artists like Beyonce and Kelly Rowland.

Their remix of Beyonce's Deja Vu earned them a Grammy nomination in 2006, but they also release their own original dance tracks.

As the pair prepare to release their latest original song, When You Touch Me, Russell Small discusses the tools of their trade - and their decision to remain largely out of the spotlight.


How would you describe yourselves?

Freemasons
James Wiltshire (l) and Russell Small are the force behind the Freemasons

We're just dance producers. I wouldn't call ourselves a band even though we put out artist albums. It's a hard one to define and we use various vocalists, never sticking to one.

How do you choose the artists that you work with?

We have a lot of people on MySpace asking if they can write or sing for us. We invite people who write without backing tracks to send us songs and have picked up some good ones. We just go for the song, its quality and the vocal delivery every time.

Because of our success in other areas we have a much better database of artists than before.

How did you get to work with Beyonce?

We did a remix for a US artist called Heather Hedley which went to number one in the US dance charts, and a couple of weeks later our manager went on a conference call with Beyonce and her people.

They asked us to do Deja Vu and then wanted us to remix her album, but we said no. Not everything suited us and some vocals were far too slow to be reworked, so we ended up doing just selected tracks.

Beyonce
Beyonce's music has been remixed by the British pair

Is there any singer whose work you'd like to get your hands on?

James has always wanted to work with Annie Lennox and I've always wanted to work with George Michael. We've put the feelers out there a couple of times.

Do you ever work directly with frontline artists and what do you do with their vocals?

We've just co-produced a track for Will Young's new album and he came to my house to record some vocals. But material from the US, including Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, just gets sent over. We play with it and then send it back.

We've got a great stretching programme for vocals but if it isn't done properly then it doesn't sound right.

You are very successful musicians, so why do you choose to stay out of the limelight?

We prefer to be in the studio and work there Monday to Friday. We DJ at the weekends which is about the only time we put ourselves out on show.

We're both quite private people and quite like being able to walk down the road and nobody gives a monkey's.
Freemasons' Russell Small on staying out of the limelight

We're not into being in music videos as we're both over the age of 30. That'd be like watching a couple of granddads dancing.

We've been invited to go on Graham Norton's show and have agreed to do it, but have got out of doing any promotional work for about four years now.

Is it harder being less recognisable and known more as a "brand"?

Within music industry circles you get talked about more than you think. Those are the kind of people who know who's remixing and producing. Not being out there is not so hard for us when it comes to record companies deciding whether they want to use us.

How did you come by your name?

It's the name of the local pub at the top of the road. Thinking up a name of a band or act is a hard thing and it seemed like a good idea at the time. We don't go in there so much now.

Freemason's single When You Touch Me featuring vocals by Katherine Ellis is released in the UK on 30 June. Russell Small was talking to BBC News entertainment reporter Michael Osborn.




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